Published on November 15th, 2013 | by Ballard Lesemann


Six Minutes Backstage at the Coliseum with the Avett Brothers

North Carolina’s Avett Brothers drew thousands to the North Charleston Coliseum on Thurs. Nov. 14 for their second Legendary Giveback benefit concert. The Americana band partnered with the N.C.-based Cheerwine beverage company to kick off the Legendary Giveback series last year. This week, the Children’s Hospital of South Carolina at MUSC Funds was designated as the primary beneficiary of the Legendary Giveback event.

Fans from the Lowcountry and around the Southeast packed the Coliseum floor and risers on Thursday night, cheering as the Avett Brothers (and several extra auxiliary rhythm section players) delivered a mix of new tracks from their latest album Magpie And The Dandelion and older fan favorites off of The Gleam II, Four Thieves Gone: The Robbinsville Sessions, and other early career highlights.

Metronome Charleston caught up with the core members of the Avett Brothers — Scott Avett (vocals, banjo) and Seth Avett (vocals, guitar), Bob Crawford (vocals, bass), and Joe Kwon (cello) — just moments before they hit the stage. It was quick, friendly chat. Seth had the most to say.


Chatting with Joe Kwon, Bob Crawford, Scott Avett, and Seth Avett at the North Charleston Coliseum (photo by Laura).

Metronome Charleston: We can remember catching the Avett Brothers in Charleston back in 2005 and ’06 when y’all were gigging at small clubs like the Village Tavern in Mt. Pleasant. It’s been a fun adventure watching the band’s ascension to big theaters and halls.

Scott Avett: On the whole, it’s been a gradual climb, there have been these moments of quantum leaps. But the first time we played the Music Farm, I remember that feeling of, ‘My gosh, we’re actually playing the huge Music Farm!’ It was so cool playing a big club where we’d seen so may great bands before. Then we returned to play there with Chatham County Line. It was great.

Seth Avett: We felt that way when we finally started playing at other big places around the region like the Georgia Theatre in Athens, Georgia, and the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, N.C.

Scott Avett: Looking back, it’s not like those places held huge numbers of people, but it did feel like a huge accomplishment.

Metronome Charleston: There’ll be more than 7,000 fans in front of you when walk out on stage in an hour or, yet none of you seem too nervous or freaked out right now.

Seth Avett: That’s the flip-side of the coin; we’re not freaked out about shows like this because we’ve played so many shows. We’ve done more than 200 shows like this a year, so it’s like the brick mason who doesn’t get nervous when he’s getting ready to make a wall.

Though our perspectives have changed, we still think of big crowds and small venues the same way. We’ve played large venues in front of large crowds in the last few years, but we’re still impressed when smaller club shows fill up.

A good friend of ours in Asheville was talking to us about a friend of his playing at the Grey Eagle, and mentioned that there were about 300 or 400 people there. I thought, ‘Man, that’s a great crowd. That’s a lot of people!’ So when I think of a crowd that size, I might not think about it the way you’d expect.

Bob Crawford: It can be just as intimidating and formidable or just as glorious, either way.


Cheerwine exec Tom Barbitta with the Avett Brothers at the North Charleston Coliseum (photo by Ballard Lesemann)

Metronome Charleston: Joe, as a classically trained cellist, how challenging was it for you to come into this type of band situation back in 2007 with such an unconventional instrument.

Joe Kwon: I don’t contribute that much to what’s already there [laughs].

Scott Avett: There are times when I look over and it seems like its a fiddle Joe’s playing

Seth Avett: In terms of Joe’s contribution, it’s an interesting thing for a musician to have the malleability to come up with things after only reading music and making the transition to playing by ear. I can count on one hand the musicians I know who’ve done that — and done that in an enjoyable and productive way.

Metronome Charleston: Maybe Joe’s orchestral experience gives this rough band an elegant touch of class.

Scott Avett: It certainly can.

Metronome Charleston: As a city and music town not too far away from your own stomping ground, is Charleston one of your home-away-from home spots?

Seth Avett: Oh, yeah, we have a lot of friends and family down here, and there are a lot of transplants who go back and forth between the Charlotte area and the Charleston area. There’s a main vein of traffic between the two. There really is something more special about Charleston. It’s more than just a neighboring city.

Bob Crawford: What’s funny is that we travel so much, any time we play within five hours of the Charlotte area, it kind of feels like we’re back home.

Metronome Charleston: There are a lot of different musical flavors on the new album Magpie And The Dandelion, from straightforward pop-rock and country to more exotic styles. In your minds, what kind of rock ‘n’ roll band has the Avett Brothers become?

Seth Avett: We’re an American band. Our influences span a broad path, a long path of American music. It’s not just a rock show. There are bits of old-time, country, and bluegrass. I think we’ve just grown and picked from there along the way. It keeps going, and it becomes this happening on stage every night. I envision that as we grow, we’ll keep using all of our tools as a an American band.

Scott Avett: It would be inaccurate for us to just go up and play one style or one kind of thing. We’re learning more about how to reflect all of the things in the pot for us.

The Avett Brothers’ fall tour rolls through Florida, the Southeast, and the Midwest through November and December. The band will return to the Carolinas for a New Year’s Eve concert at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte with Charleston’s own Shovels and Rope in the opening slot.

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* Top Photo: Cheerwine exec Tom Barbitta with Joe Kwon, Bob Crawford, Scott Avett, and Seth Avett — backstage at the North Charleston Coliseum (photo by Ballard Lesemann).



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About the Author

Ballard Lesemann

is a musician and writer. Born and raised in Charleston, S.C., he spent years playing in bands and working for Flagpole Magazine in the bustling music town of Athens, Ga. He returned to his hometown and served more than seven years as the Charleston City Paper's music editor. He's better at drumming than he is at playing guitar.

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